Space And Place Written All Over Your Face

We are in the infantile stages of 2015, and as most postmodern individuals, we expect new technological advances to become publicly accessible instead of just publicly known. Google Glass (although heavily delayed, most likely completely canceled), has ushered in what we see in the mainstream of augmented reality. Microsoft is expected to unleash their tech in the near future, as they have just given us a teaser trailer

; and we can expect Apple to take their chance on it sooner rather than later.  As with all technology, augmented reality(dubbed as AR from now on) doesn’t just appear, it is theorized either by accident or practice and then placed into practice. So we must define AR by its history as well as today. We must also understand AR’s appeal. Why should we care that this technology is beginning to mature into a stage where we can make use of it in the masses?

Merriam-Webster defines Augmented Reality as “an enchanced version of reality created by the use of technology to overlay digital information on an image of something being viewed through a device..”. In essence, AR is a mobile wearable technology. It falls somewhere in between reality and the virtual. (Liao and Humphreys, Pg. 1) Now that we know what AR is today, we must understand the building blocks that gave oxygen to this technology, especially in theory. AR is a wearable tech; the newest mainstream wearable tech. So the highlighted history of wearable tech is where we find what made AR plausible and appealing for today. I believe that we can find these highlights in the wearable tech that was the ace before AR became ace, the mobile phone; specifically in the 1990’s and 2000’s. It is not the existence of the cellphone that helped to give us a peek into AR, but the highlight developments of what is now the modern cellphone and smartphones that do. In the 1990s we saw the mobile phone extended its array of features beyond just calls. Text messaging(precursor to instant messaging), picture messaging, and multimedia in general becomes part of the mobile phone repertoire. In a short time this would become a lucrative division of the mobile phone industry. These are seen as necessities today and are still go-to features for the newest forms of AR today

. It is in the 2000s where the key developments happen, however. In the 2000s we see mobile phones gaining access to the internet, thanks to GPS developments phones have location awareness, and data retrieval as well; this also allowed for phones to interact with cultural objects. phone_sensors

While these were milestones in the development of the mobile phone which essentially became necessities when put into mass practice as years followed, they were building blocks for the basic features of AR. 

AR has taken the prized possessions of the mobile phone and made it the standard building block. There are many other trivial and advanced capabilities AR possesses but what makes it truly appealing is the changes it brings beyond the technology, and the potential fall outs of having AR in the mainstream. Returning to Tony Liao and Lee Humphrey’s “Layer-ed Places” gives us a more imperially evident look into the fallout of AR. One of keys in Liao and Humphrey’s article is understanding the meaning of space and place and AR’s role in space and place. “This study focuses specifically on users of Layar, one of the most widely used mobile AR applications. Layar displays points of interest (POIs), user-created annotations, or graphics based on the Global Positioning System (GPS) location of the device and…Users can download different content layers (e.g. restaurants, apartment listings) and view that content overlaid on the physical world by pointing their mobile device at a location. Layar also allows users to create content and place them on particular locations.” (Liao and Humphreys , Pg. 2-3). Essentially Layar uses the the mobile phone’s camera and GPS, and to make it even more recent; Google Glass takes this element and makes it constant. As long as its on your eyes, and on, you are “pointing your mobile device”. It has gone from an application to a literal tool. This means, that a new version of control and point of view has been created. These tools interact in the realm of space and place. Space is static and so we use static tools to navigate this space; like a map. Place is not static, place is a social act and AR (which allows us to change what we see on these spaces with created augmented content), allows us to manipulate place. We have mobile technology that seems to have peaked the cellphone’s ability to thank for that building block for AR. Theoretically the possibilities are endless with a non-static “place” that is constantly redefined as AR continues to mature. Not only is AR technologically appealing, it’s socially appealing. People have already begun to use the technology for social commentary. Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 12.40.09 PM. Constant redefining of place can even change the meaning of the space. In the picture above, what was once defined as a means for freedom and advancement is now defined as a memorial and a warning. Liao and Humphreys did infact interview some people who have used AR and the responses shown that there is a measurable appeal to AR already; especially amongst content creators(Liao and Humphreys, Pg 9-10). However, AR is not all good especially because it carries social fallout with it. For instance, a major gripe many had with the idea of Google Glass is the possibility of being observed and recorded at any given time without the knowledge of it. This included industry and people alike. This has even led to violence against people who possess and openly use AR devices. So while there is an appeal to AR and possibly down the line even a demand, it should come tentatively.

Cited Sources

-[Definition of Augmented Reality], Retrieved (2015, February, 1) from

-Liao, Tony and Humphreys Lee [2014]. Layer-ed places: Using mobile augmented reality to tactically reengage, reproduce, and reappropriate public space. Retrieved (2015, February, 1) from 

-Mobile History Timeline. Retrieved (2015, February, 1) From 

-[Untitled, picture of smartphone capabilites], Retrieved (2015, February, 1) from

-Triple6Games(Channel).Microsoft.(2015, January, 22). Microsoft Hololens Trailer. Retrieved (2015, February, 1) from 

-Google. (2013, February, 20). How it Feels[through Google Glass]. Retrieved (2015, February, 1) from

-Google Glass.(2013, April, 30). Google Glass How-to:Getting Started. Retrieved(2015, February, 1) from 


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